BRITISH manufacturing orders fell more than expected in April to the lowest level in two and a half years, the CBI’s industrial trends survey showed yesterday.
A net balance of 25 per cent of businesses reported a drop in their order books in the month, up from 15 per cent in March and the worst reading since October 2010.
Output volumes appeared to increase, however, with a net five per cent reporting growth in the month, up from three per cent in March.
And the quarterly reading was slightly less gloomy, with a balance of six per cent reporting a fall in new orders over the past three months.
“This quarter was a mixed bag for manufacturers, with new orders disappointing because of a decline in domestic demand, but output did increase,” said Stephen Gifford, the CBI’s director of economics.
“Although weaker sterling has eased concerns about international competitiveness, manufacturers highlight the potentially chilling effect of political and economic instability abroad on export orders, such as the Cyprus crisis,” he added.
Businesses were nevertheless optimistic about the next three months, with a net 18 per cent expecting orders to increase, up from 14 per cent at the start of 2013.